The importance of volunteering was highlighted recently at the launch of the European Year of Volunteering 2011, where Caher’s Kathleen McNamara, the winner in the Sports and Recreation category at the Ireland Involved Awards last year, was among those present.
The event in Dublin was attended by President Mary McAleese in her capacity as patron of European Year of Volunteering 2011 along with over 300 individual volunteers and non-profit organisations from across the country.
Ms McNamara represented Clare and the former chairperson of Killanena Camogie Club highlighted the importance and benefits associated with volunteering locally.
“From a local point of view, in the camogie club, we have had a few new people come on board and we continue to encourage people to come along. If you have more volunteers, it makes it easier for everyone and it ensures that people are not left on their own doing stuff and it provides additional support among the group’s members. I would always encourage people to volunteer. That’s the value of volunteering, that you can have more activities in a rural area. I think adults are afraid to volunteer because they think they will be left with a heap of work but when you realise it doesn’t have to be that way when people volunteer, there is huge support. There are plenty of people who are experienced in volunteering who are only delighted to help people getting involved. We would not ask for them to take on complete responsibility. Even if people can get involved just in small aspects they gain a lot out of it in the long run by meeting new people and adding to their support structures as well as helping their community and family,” she said.
Ms McNamara is also involved with the Loughgraney Youth Club and commented on the amount of new parents getting involved with the club and how new ideas can breathe new life into the activities of a local club.
“With the youth club, it’s great to see new parents coming on board. It works both ways; it helps to keep things going but it’s also a social outlet. In these times, there are a lot of people without work who could give a bit of time and by getting involved you do end up making more friends and gaining support in the long run,” she said.
Ms NcNamara said both Killanena Camogie Club and Loughgraney Youth Club are always looking for new volunteers and added that there is an open-door policy in both clubs and they would be interested in new ideas from others in the locality.
Volunteering Ireland, who is appointed the national co-ordinating body for EYV2011, launched a dedicated website, EYV2011.ie, at the recent event in Dublin and is calling on volunteer organisations in Clare to register their events on the online calendar so volunteers can see what events are happening in their region where their skills might be required.
The primary aim of EYV2011 is to raise awareness of the impact that volunteering activities have on society. The year is also about empowering people to volunteer by promotion and facilitation and to raise awareness of the value that volunteering inherently provides to communities.
Speaking at the event, President McAleese said, “There is a saying that ‘he who gives when he is asked, has waited too long’. Volunteers are people who see a need and say ‘let me help’. That offer of help is made without thought of any personal reward beyond the fulfilment that comes from giving.
“But in this year, which focuses on volunteering, I take this opportunity to warmly thank Ireland’s volunteers and to encourage them to keep on volunteering and to encourage others to get involved, to volunteer and to discover the hidden treasury of fun, friendships, insight, wisdom, experience and personal well-being that comes from being of service to others.”
For more information on the European Year of Volunteering 2011, log onto www.eyv2011.ie or for information on volunteering, log onto www.volunteeringireland.ie